Armagh Public Library has confirmed that it has received a welcome ‘transition grant’ of £95,500.
The funding, from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), will be used to review and modernise the Library’s eighteenth century governance and management structures, and to consider staffing requirements and new ways of working.
The project which is entitled ‘1773 to 2016 Transition’, will also develop a five-year strategic plan, including plans and strategies for audience development, marketing and communications, and heritage conservation.
A Grade A Listed Building, Armagh Public Library is a reference library of some 42,000 titles, which also holds collections of fine art, coins, gems and archaeological items.
It is an accredited museum whose role is to care for, display and make accessible to the public the collections in its care.
It has an associated museum at No 5 Vicars’ Hill, restored with grant aid from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the then Northern Ireland Tourist Board in 2010 – 2011.
Both the Library and No 5 are graded four-star visitor attractions within Tourism NI’s Quality Assurance Scheme.
Currently the Library welcomes a wide range of visitors and users, including scholars and researchers, primary and post primary schools, specialist interest groups, such as literary and historical societies, genealogical societies and community groups, as well as tourists and visitors.
This welcome is provided by a staff team of five, four of whom are part-time, and a team of volunteers, who help on special occasions. Some of the volunteers also work in the Library on a weekly basis, having been trained to help with basic conservation activities.
This new project will be carried out over a ten-month period, to include six months for research and planning, followed by a three-month implementation phase.
Commenting on the grant, the Very Rev Gregory Dunstan, Keeper of Armagh Public Library, said: “This grant is very good news for the Library. It is one of the gems of Georgian Armagh.
“As it approaches its 250th anniversary in 2021, the Library needs to plan for its future, both the conservation of its building and collections and ensuring their accessibility to a much wider audience.
“We would like many more Armagh people to feel that the Library is theirs to use, and many more visitors to know that it is something that they must come to Armagh to see.
“With this very generous support, the Heritage Lottery Fund is helping the Library to lay foundations for the next 250 years.”
Paul Mullan, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund NI said: “Heritage Lottery Fund is aware of the difficulties facing heritage organisations and facilities across the UK. We have made funding available to help build the capacity of existing organisations and help others make any structural changes necessary to meet future challenges.
“We aim to support long-term financial resilience within the heritage sector. Armagh Public Library is a fantastic heritage resource for Northern Ireland and we want to work with them and support them as they look to their future.”